3 February 2013

wouldn't it... be loverly!

A recent discussion of diction and accents with my favourite tenor had me back into Youtube looking for particular songs from My Fair Lady. He had said "I want to go to London and learn to speak (sing) with an English accent". "Be careful, I replied, there is English and English".

I found the wonderful Eliza Dolittle for him, and some Professor Higgins. Together we marvelled at the variations within the English language. He agreed that what he had in mind was perhaps more Henry than Eliza.

From "My Fair Lady" I went to Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. What wonderful diction. "But she's not a tenor", said my friend. Tonight in my wandering around via Westside Story I discovered the tenor David Curry. He is an interesting one to consider as the Canadian tenor trained in London and has no problems switching from one accent to another. (Here is David Curry singing "Tonight" in Germany).

The debate with my friend was centred around whether he should try to lose his slight American accent and cultivate an English one, or develop the ability to switch from one to another depending on where he is singing, or, his prefered option, stay with his own accent which, as he says, "is part of me".

How much does our persona come via our oral communication? And if you are a professional singer, should you have to conform to different accents at the likely expense of your own "accent history"?

I think you do need to conform. An Italian opera should be sung in Italian with perfect Italian vowel sounds. An English aria demands crisp and clear consonants. And so I think that diction lessons (other than from me) are important. And if this changes the accent of the singer, then so be it! But will that then change the person?  Perhaps it could. It's certainly something to ponder, when you carry things out to an extreme in your imagination. It certainly set me a-thinking.

It is also a long time since I have stayed up until 3am debating a point such as this with my friends. I would love to assemble my favourite talented people to discuss such things, and to help with the diction lessons currently required.

The perfect teacher is in Auckland, but the pupil is shortly to leave Italy for concerts in America. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could wave a magic wand and have the music/diction teacher/accompianist here, this week, in this house with its wonderful acoustics and dramatic setting?

Not only would a perfect pairing of pupil and teacher be achieved, but also I would have some of my dearest friends sharing their talents, and I would simply be the coffee maker who enjoyed all the music, laughter and witty jokes.

In a perfect world... oh would...n't it... be lov..er...ly?

Today I am grateful for Youtube.

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